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Abu Dhabi

UAE leads the international schools market, says new report

ISC Research publishes report on English-medium K-12 education, showing UAE in tight race with China for growth

Posted by Stephanie Broad | April 15, 2016 | International

ISC Research, the world’s leading provider of data on the international schools market, has published a report which shows that the UAE continues to be the leading country in the world for English-medium K-12 international schools.

The report, titled Market Intelligence Report for International Schools in the United Arab Emirates, says that in terms of the number of international schools, the UAE is currently competing in a very tight race with China, but in terms of student enrolment, the UAE leads the world.

There are 548 English-medium international schools in the UAE; just three more than in China. The two emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi dominate, with 260 schools in Dubai and 191 in Abu Dhabi. More schools are under construction, with 14 due to open during 2016 including GEMS International School in Mudon, Canadian International School in Dubai, and Sunmarke School in Jumeirah Village. Several more schools are in various phases of development. 

The total number of students aged between three and 18 attending English-medium international schools in the UAE is 545,074. This is the highest enrolment of any country in the world by a significant margin (Saudi Arabia follows with 260,989). 36% of all international schools in the UAE have over 1,000 students.

Major factors in high student enrolment include the wealth of the country, an extensive expatriate population, demand for high quality, English-medium education by both expatriates and wealthy locals, plus the fact that the governments of Dubai and Abu Dhabi allow unlimited enrolment of local children at international schools. According to the ISC Market Intelligence Report, Emirati students comprise the single largest student nationality (25%) with the exception of Dubai where they are outnumbered by Indian children (29%). However, in no emirate do local children exceed 50% of the student population.

The report states that, with Dubai’s population projected to grow by 13% within the next two years, and further expansion in Abu Dhabi, demand for international school places in these two emirates will continue to increase substantially.

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